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American Desks

Dating to at least the 15th century, desks remained specialized tools for the literate few until the end of the 17th century, when an explosion of printed material prompted an interest in literacy among the middle and upper classes.

Early in the development of American desks, a wide variety were created, from simple pine versions made by local cabinetmakers to finely-crafted examples in the Hepplewhite, Chippendale, and Sheratoby styles. Well-known period furniture-makers included Goddard-Townsend, John and Thomas Seymour, and Duncan Phyfe.

In the 20th century, American design began moving away from traditional designs built with oak, walnut, mahogany, and maple, into to a more contemporary direction that saw the rise of modern designers like Charles and Ray Eames, Jens Risom, and later Milo Baughman.

American desks are some of the more popular and widely-purchased pieces in the Western world. Auctions are ideal sources for a variety of them in every size, shape, and style.


Quick Facts

  • In March 2015 a Dunlap country-style, slant-front curly maple desk went for more than three times its estimate at Garth’s
  • A desk that once sat in U.S. President Thomas Jefferson’s plantation in Poplar Forest, Virginia, sold at auction in 2013 for $65,000
  • In 2013 at Sotheby’s, a one-of-a-kind aluminum desk crafted by Neal Feay Studio sold for charity (to fight AIDS in Africa) for $1.7 million

Recommended Items at Auction

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Milling Road by Baker Furniture leather top desk
Dec 11, 12:00 PM EST
Milling Road by Baker Furniture leather top desk
by South Jersey Auction by Babington Auction Inc.
Est: $400- $800
$2001 Bid
DREXEL AMERICAN MODERN WALNUT DESK. METAL PULLS.
Dec 06, 10:00 AM EST
DREXEL AMERICAN MODERN WALNUT DESK. METAL PULLS.
by Uniques & Antiques
Est: $150- $200
$1000 Bids
Florence Knoll (1917-2019) for Knoll, Oval Rosewood Table/Desk
Dec 04, 10:00 AM CST
Florence Knoll (1917-2019) for Knoll, Oval Rosewood Table/Desk
by New Orleans Auction Galleries
Est: $1,000- $1,500
$8000 Bids
Century Furniture quality regency style leather top desk
Dec 11, 12:00 PM EST
Century Furniture quality regency style leather top desk
by South Jersey Auction by Babington Auction Inc.
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
Baker Directoire Style Desk
Dec 15, 11:00 AM EST
Baker Directoire Style Desk
by Willow Auction House
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
AMERICAN MODERN WALNUT DESK
Dec 06, 10:00 AM EST
AMERICAN MODERN WALNUT DESK
by Uniques & Antiques
Est: $150- $200
$1000 Bids
MAINLINE BY HOOKER AMERICAN MODERN WALNUT DESK. BLACK LAMINATE WRITING SURFACE.
Dec 08, 10:00 AM EST
MAINLINE BY HOOKER AMERICAN MODERN WALNUT DESK. BLACK LAMINATE WRITING SURFACE.
by Uniques & Antiques
Est: $200- $300
$1500 Bids
PAUL T. FRANKL - KIDNEY-SHAPED DESK AND CABINET
Dec 08, 11:00 AM EST
PAUL T. FRANKL - KIDNEY-SHAPED DESK AND CABINET
by Capsule Gallery Auction
Est: $1,000- $2,000
$5000 Bids
Peter Protzman for Herman Miller Zebrawood and Chrome Executive Desk
Dec 14, 10:00 AM EST
Peter Protzman for Herman Miller Zebrawood and Chrome Executive Desk
by Gray's Auctioneers
Est: $800- $1,200
$4000 Bids
Shaker Pine Writing Table or Desk, Early 20th C.
Dec 11, 11:00 AM EST
Shaker Pine Writing Table or Desk, Early 20th C.
by Auctions at Showplace
Est: $200- $400
$500 Bids
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Kem Weber (American, 1889-1963) Writing Desk, Model WD-42, 1934-1939, Lloyd Loom
Dec 15, 10:00 AM CST
Kem Weber (American, 1889-1963) Writing Desk, Model WD-42, 1934-1939, Lloyd Loom
by Heritage Auctions
Est: $800- $1,200
$4000 Bids
FINE ENGLISH INLAID SECRETARY / DESK W/ SECRET DRAWERS (89" TALL X 42" WIDE X 20 1/2" DEEP )
Dec 04, 10:30 AM EST
FINE ENGLISH INLAID SECRETARY / DESK W/ SECRET DRAWERS (89" TALL X 42" WIDE X 20 1/2" DEEP )
by Carlsen Gallery, Inc.
Est: $2,000- $4,000
$1,0000 Bids
3pc Winners Only Inc. mission oak 2pc desk with chair
Dec 11, 12:00 PM EST
3pc Winners Only Inc. mission oak 2pc desk with chair
by South Jersey Auction by Babington Auction Inc.
Est: $300- $600
$1500 Bids
George Nelson & Associates, Steelframe desk, model 4111
Dec 15, 10:00 AM PST
George Nelson & Associates, Steelframe desk, model 4111
by Los Angeles Modern Auctions
Est: $800- $1,000
$5000 Bids
Harvey Ellis, attribution, for Gustav Stickley, Important desk
Dec 13, 11:00 AM CST
Harvey Ellis, attribution, for Gustav Stickley, Important desk
by Toomey & Co. Auctioneers
Est: $20,000- $30,000
$16,0000 Bids
Barbara Barry for Henredon Ladies Writing Desk
Dec 04, 12:00 PM EST
Barbara Barry for Henredon Ladies Writing Desk
by Auctions at Showplace
Est: $1,000- $2,000
$1000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell American Desks


South Jersey Auction by Babington Auction Inc.

South Jersey Auction by Babington Auction Inc.

Uniques & Antiques

Uniques & Antiques

Auctions at Showplace

Auctions at Showplace

Stair

Stair